Bacteria Took Her Limbs, But Woman Progresses With Prosthetics

By Courtney Perkes
The Orange County Register.

Kaitlyn Dobrow climbed a short staircase, her eyes fixed on every step as she pushed and lifted one prosthetic leg in front of the other.

Her parents also watched raptly, not unlike when she first learned to walk as a baby.

“It’s amazing the things we take for granted,” her father, Don Dobrow, 60, said quietly as he watched her physical therapy session last week at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey.

Dobrow, 19, is slowly reclaiming pieces of her independence since her four limbs were amputated last year after she fell ill with a life-threatening case of bacterial meningitis.

In addition to her legs, she’s learning to use a prosthetic arm on her right side, which she customized with a leopard-print pattern. Her left arm, which was amputated just below her shoulder, will be addressed later.

As she has throughout her recovery, Dobrow, who lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., displays a matter-of-fact, forward-looking attitude as she deals with the soreness, fatigue and frustration of learning to use her new limbs.

“I thought it was hard but you’re going to have to get over it,” Dobrow said. “It’s hard but I never thought it’s not going to happen because it kind of has to happen.”
One day in February 2013, Dobrow went to work and then to the gym. She felt sick that night and by the next day she was rushed to

the hospital. Dobrow had developed an infection that caused her blood to clot and damage more than half her body with the equivalent of third-degree burns. She underwent 22 surgeries, including the amputations and skin grafting.

She came home in October and therapists began working to prepare her highly sensitive, fragile skin for prosthesis.

Late last year, she took her first steps with support from an overhead harness to offset her body weight.

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